Interview with Nagesh Kukunoor

Geeta Padmanabhan, Chennai writer, journalist and blogger, met with maverick director Nagesh Kukunoor who also writes his stories and screenplays. In the following interview, he discusses ‘Iqbal’ and the trouble with portraying people with disabilities.

Nagesh Kukunoor flew into Chennai in the first week of January for a mission that he now looks forward to. For two years now, he has been on the panel judging the winners of the CavinKare Ability Awards. These are annual awards given to exceptional people with disabilities. The Eminence Award is given to a disabled person who has overcome his limitations to help those around him. The two Mastery Awards are given to people with disabilities who have excelled in their chosen field. Once the nominations are short-listed, representatives go to where the nominees live to do interviews and shoot films about them. Then the panel meets in Chennai to watch the video clips and read up the reports to choose the winners through a weightage system. NK’s wonderful treatment of disability in Iqbal has made him a great friend of Ability Foundation, that co-hosts the Awards. I caught up with him at lunch following the final selection. “Do you pick food that helps to think better?” I asked. NK looked through the thick-framed glasses he wears now and laughed. “I just eat everything that looks good,” he said. “See, my plate is full.” In more ways than one. GP: Where did you get the idea for Dor? NK: From a newspaper report. I hear something similar happened after the movie as well, with a different ending. GP: One criticism about Iqbal was this. How could a boy in a village bowling to a couple of sticks be included in the state team? He is not shown to be playing in local matches at all. NK: You know, Ajit Agarkar (playing for India now) has had a run. So that part is not all imagination. GP:How do you view disability? NK:There is no self-pity in any of my characters. Iqbal never pities himself. In the Indian psyche self-pity and sympathy are very strong. We get lost in these emotions and never get to step 2. Pity is understandable, even unavoidable. I went into step 2. For me the stronger issue is disability can be overcome. GP:Ever considered asking a disabled person to do the role? NK:My job is to tell the story well. In a feature, you are fictionalizing a story. A phenomenal person with a disability may not be a good actor. GP:Some people wonder why kids have to look cuddly and loveable (as in Anjali) when they are portrayed with disabilities. NK:Oh, come on. A director works with a limited number of tools. Many people said Hyderabad Blues II was better than Hyderabad Blues I. But the movie bombed. You know why? I didn’t have a good-looking heroine. When disability is highlighted, I have to force people to watch. I have to make the movie accessible to a wide variety of audiences. And they don’t want to be reminded of everyday life. A director has to pick his battles. If I had a good-looking girl, the red-blooded males will come. In a story where women are sidelined, when we show how they are treated, if the woman isn’t pretty, there will be no empathy from your audiences. Even in Iqbal, Thalpade was cast for his wholesome, cute looks. Of course, I am not going to succumb to the “beauty rule”. But I don’t want to lose my audience. I have to pick my battles. GP:What is the next one? NK:Probably a love story between an Indian and a Thai girl. The dynamics of such a relationship. (Smiling mischievously), You can be sure the Thai girl will be stunning to look at.

23 thoughts on “Interview with Nagesh Kukunoor

  1. Geeta Padmanabhan

    Hi, I have three, but I’ve forgotten which one works. Here they are:
    Nagesh Kukanoor , nagesh kuknoor , Nagesh Kukunoor ,
    I am told he generally answers e-mail.

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  2. sachin kumar

    sorry to disturb u once again..but the email address u have given here are not complete. Can u please give me the complete e-mail address…
    u can mail it to me….i will be very grateful to you…

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  3. dwaipayan majumder

    hi..
    Im tryin toget in touch with Nagesh.I would like you to help me with his email address or his office address..

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  4. Gururaaj D

    Hi Geeta…i understand its not ethically professionally correct to share contact infos with prior consent..
    i would like to get in touch with nagesh about a story line..i know there would be thousands of them wanting to…
    will be possible you can mail nagesh n then mail me his email id with his consent..
    why should u do it ??? hehehe..well u just might ask me for an interview some day 🙂 just kidding..
    see if you can help me with it..

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  5. laxmi

    Hi Geeta:

    I have an interesting story which would form the basis for a simple yet realistic movie. I would be happy to share my story with Nagesh whom I personally adore for his simplicity and depiction of down to earth reality. To me, movies have to represent reality or else the connection with the public is lost. Commercial sing-&-dance movies which do not convey a strong message are pretty meaningless and I dont wish to be part of this kind of cinema.

    If u think Nagesh would be interested in listening to my storyline I would be happy to share it with him. Do let me know if you can help me in this…thanks

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  6. Dr. Arpita Sutradhar

    hi geeta. read the interview. I am doing a writeup on uccessful NRI’s. It would be of immense help if you could give me NK’s email id. I plan to do an email interview, An ASAP reply will be very much appreciated. Thanks.

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  7. Geeta Padmanabhan

    Sorry, this is Vidya’s call. I guess she has the mail ID. Do get in touch with her.
    Hi Vidya, I guess you should publish NK’s ID at the bottom of the interview!

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  8. Ashok Shetty

    I believe Nagesh is an intelligent director and I wish to have his email ID for giving my useful comments.

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  9. EV RAMANA PRASAAD

    DEAR NAGESH
    I AM AN ADMIRER OF YOU AND YOUR FILMS AND LIKED ALL OF YOUR MOVIES FOR THE SIMPLE REASON THAT YOU CAN WATCH THEM ANY NUMBER OF TIMES.
    I AM 50 YEARS OLD, GOODLOOKING, VERY ATHELETIC WITH A GOOD BODY LANGUAGE AND A VERY PHOTOGENIC FACE. I WOULD BE INTERESTWED TO ACT IN A MOVIE OF YOURS FOR FREE ( PLEASE DONT MISTAKE ME )I WAS BORN AND BROUGHTUP IN HYDERABAD, STUDENT OF HYDERABAD PUBLIC SCHOOL, BEGUMPET AND BADRUKA COLLEGE OF COMMERCE.

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  10. EV RAMANA PRASAAD

    PLEASE GIVE ME A CHANCE .YOU CAN CONTACT ME 24×7 AT MY MOBILE 9959004473 . I AND SPEAK ENGLISH, HINDI AND TELUGU FLUENTLY AND CAN BE GOOD USE TO YOU. THANKING YOU

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  11. Dr.Shobha

    Hello everyone,Anyne of you please oblige by giving me the official email id of Nagesh Kukkunoor.I wish to send him my son’s profile.He is an aspiring very talented young singer.I remain obliged to whosoever sends me contact address with email id at the earliest as this is very urgent please.

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  12. Gaurang

    It may sound stupid, but one of the wishes before i die would be to see Nagesh, I am a 33yrs old – NRI (I am a Canadian and have nothing to do with bollywood, I don’t want any favors), having said so if anyone in this world could give any contact information regarding this talented man, I would greatly appreciate. I am just not a fan but a truly a die hard fan, which makes in part of millions.
    My email id is gaurang@rogers.com. Pl. If anyone have any information, i am willing to fly from Toronto just to meet/see him.

    Regards / G

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  13. mitali

    Hi Geeta !!!
    I am a great fan of Nagesh Kukunoor. i want to interact with this great person. i love ol his movies, starting from Hyderabad Blues. can u plz give his e-mail id ???? or contact no. though it is very personal, but i have a dream I WILL MEET HIM SOME DAY. Few days back he came Kolkata but unable to meet him. but next time surely, i will meet him.

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  14. Siddaling

    Hi geeta…

    Really luv d movies directed by nagesh rite frm Hyderabad blues1 to aashayein,m luking fr his email id..

    thank u

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